Hartford, CT

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Hartford is the capital of Connecticut, located in the central region of the state, and has a population of about 123,000.  Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented problems in Hartford for decades, and associated crimes occurring within the sex trade context have included the homicide of prostituted women, and infants endangered during prostitution transactions.  Historians have documented a thriving “red light” district in the 1800s and early 1900s that was illegal but tolerated, and connected to a variety of crimes and other problems such as infectious disease.  The city has a relatively long history of addressing demand for commercial sex.  The Hartford Police Department began conducting reverse stings in 1980, and routinely both seize the vehicles and publicize the identities of arrested sex buyers. In July 2015, for example, HPD officers conducted a street-level reversal using a female police decoy. In an interview with WVIT-TV following the investigation, a HPD representative commented that anti-prostitution efforts have at times been launched in city areas where other recent violent crimes were reported, to not only reduce commercial sex activity but also gather information from arrestees. He noted:

“Rarely do we do any of these operations where they’re not in the area of a recent homicide. Every person we bring in, we will debrief and try to find out any information we can on recent shootings, homicides, robberies, burglaries, anything. I can think of a few homicides in recent years that we’ve gotten valuable information to move forward with an arrest through one of these prostitution details.”

In June, 2019, Hartford police said they arrested 10 male sex buyers after addressing complaints of prostitution in the area of Wethersfield Avenue. Police detectives and officers from the Hartford Police Department’s’ Vice, Intelligence, and Narcotics Division, South Community Service Officers, Community Response Unit, and the Patrol Division conducted a joint, undercover street-level prostitution reverse sting operation. According to police, the operation was initiated after several complaints of street-level prostitution happening on Wethersfield Avenue. Police said that undercover officers posed as prostitutes and were placed in the area. When they were solicited for prostitution, the arrests were made. Officials said prostitution along Wethersfield Avenue has been a historic issue and police had conducted four undercover prostitution operations in the first six months of 2019 year.

The city first launched its first “john school” in 2000. In addition to attending the educational program, men processed through the Community Court may also have “dear john letters” sent to their homes and be required to perform community service.

John School (“John Protocol”)

The john school program in Hartford is named “The John Protocol” and is operated by the Community Court (State of Connecticut, Judicial Branch) and its key partner, AIDS Project Hartford.    In addition to handling prostitution cases within the Hartford Judicial District, the Community Court also presides over cases of those who are charged with soliciting prostitutes for their services.  The Community Court developed the “John Protocol” not only to punish the perpetrators, but also to educate them about the impact their behavior has on their health and the community.  The program is delivered in six sessions. Its main topics focus on individual and community level health consequences, and other negative consequences for individuals directly involved as well as to the broader community.  The protocol also requires 10 days up to community service.  An excerpt from a Community Court Newsletter describes the local version of a john school as follows:

“Throughout the years, one of the most consistent complaints from the community is street prostitution. For the most part, it is a drug-driven enterprise with numerous associated health, criminal and public-safety factors that fuel an exacerbating effect on the deterioration of neighborhoods. One of the primary problems behind this issue is the men who come here to solicit the prostitutes, known in common parlance as “johns.” The bottom line is solicitation of a prostitute is a crime and will be handled as such in Community Court. It is also an issue of public health and education. For those reasons, the Community Court has been working in collaboration with AIDS Project Hartford to develop a six-session program where each “john” must attend a one hour counseling session with APH Health Educator John Olivares once a week for six weeks at the Community Court. They must also submit to Sexually Transmitted Disease testing (HIV testing is voluntary for the participant). Since implementing this protocol in late 2009, the Community Court has not seen one recidivist from the protocol.”

Key Partners

  • Hartford Police Department
  • Community Court (State of Connecticut, Judicial Branch)
  • AIDS Project Hartford
  • End Demand Connecticut

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey

John School, Community Service:

Reverse Stings:

Web Based Reverse Stings; Disclosure of Identities:

Disclosure of Sex Buyer Identities:

Auto Seizures:

Neighborhood Action:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background of Prostitution in the Area:

Child Endangerment:

  • “Police Arrest Suspected Prostitutes and Pimp; The Woman’s Manager Had an Infant Child with Him, Police Said”, NBC/WVIT-TV 30, October 22 2013.
State Connecticut
Type City
Population 122549
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